Regularly featured in lowbrow art publications like Juxtapoz and Movement Magazine, Donny Miller's work is witty, sarcastic and sardonic.
Does that make him a misanthrope?
"I'm a realist," Miller said. "I think every person is capable of very great things and very bad things. Each person is capable of that. If you want to see what someone is really like, give them some money and power. Then, you'll see where their heart is."
The Los Angeles artist presents his newest exhibit — "Ignorance Is a Choice" — opening with a reception Aug. 2 at St. Augustine's Space:Eight gallery.
The exhibit from Miller, whose commercial work has earned an extensive client list including Vans, Nike, Nickelodeon, Adidas, American Apparel and Rockstar Games, will feature signed and numbered prints from his "Fine Art (Good for Walls)" and "Universe" series.
In his signature graphics from the "Fine Art (Good for Walls)" series, a blonde girl is eating a large slice of watermelon with the question "What stereotype are you?" at the top. In another, a woman is holding up an ice-cream cone; the scoop of ice cream is Earth. It reads, "The world doesn't terrify me. Just the people."
There are dozens of these and each one asks the viewer to question society, pop culture, politics and human philosophy. Powerful questions, comments and phrases are accompanied by seemingly benign graphics. Juxtapoz called Miller "one of the most irreverent artists working today."
"Sometimes I just want the words to be heard," Miller said. "Sometimes pictures get in the way of what's being said. Words are precious pieces of humanity."
In Miller's "Universe" series, it's obvious the artist wants the viewer to spend more time contemplating the words than the visuals. The pieces have similar cosmic, celestial backgrounds with the statements "It Doesn't Really Matter." and "Time Is Man-Made." and "You Are Everything You Ever Created." They're mostly written in all capital letters with at least one notable exception — "That's all Folks!" in the classic "Looney Tunes" script.
Miller's signed prints at the upcoming Space:Eight show will sell for $250 each.
"The originals I make of the ‘Universe' series are on mirror," Miller said. "They're 4-foot-by-4-foot and close to 80 pounds. This is just a print show."
A husband, father and very busy artist, Miller finds many things in society bothersome and a waste of time.
"I want to make a browser that completely removes any and all celebrities from my Internet experience," he said. "Not that I don't like seeing how fat someone got, but it's a distraction and completely meaningless. I just don't need to see it all the time. Sometimes, I need to get stuff done."
"I am sick of obvious injustices in the world. Look at what has been happening to whistleblowers. They're blowing the whistle to alert everyone, not just left-wing people. It's not a left or right thing," Miller said.
"But how does our government react? They jail them, but they don't look into the crime that was revealed. Think about what was revealed. Think about the alleged crimes that took place; war profiteering, killing innocent civilians. No one looks into that. Why not?"
Space:Eight has become known for its high-profile displays and quirky art shows. Gallery owner Rob DePiazza is the brains behind attracting artists like Miller, who won't be able to make it to the opening in St. Augustine.
"Regretfully, Mr. Miller will be out of country conducting migratory animal field studies in the Okavango Delta [in] Botswana and will not be able to attend the opening," DePiazza wrote in the press release.
In reality, Miller's busy working on a big show in LA, along with his ever-present commercial work.
"I've been blessed that I don't really go out and find commercial work," he said. "It almost always comes to me."
Miller said technology was central to the exhibit title "Ignorance Is a Choice."
"We do choose to be ignorant to some extent," Miller said. "We now have the ability to look up anything in the world using a cellphone. For the first time in history, this technology is available to us. Let's look up Napoleon. When did Napoleon die? 1821. How old was he? 51. But are we getting smarter as people? That's debatable."